It only takes a few moments to be completely enchanted and inspired by soulful folk-rock singer Christine Hand who was selected as a finalist in the Al Johnson Performing Songwriter Contest. The Americana songwriter is a native of Fort Worth, Texas and recently released her first album, The Book of the World, now available on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon.
Wildflower! Arts & Music Festival spent a bit of time chatting with Christine to find out a little more about the momentum and spurring that led to becoming a finalist in this competition.
Wildflower! Arts & Music Festival: What makes you unique?
Christine Hand: By day, I’m an English professor, and I did my dissertation on Bob Dylan. As a writer, what makes me unique is that I tend to see the magic in the mundane and I love to bring out those connections for others who may not see it that way.
WAMFest: When did you learn guitar and was it a formal education, or self-taught? Do you play any other instruments?
CH: Around age 14. Mostly self-taught, with help from my multi-instrumentalist dad. I play a bit of piano, percussion, and mandolin – but only very little!
WAMFest: Are you solo or happen to play with any other groups?
CH: I usually perform with my husband Adam Jones (guitars, mandolin and percussion) and my dad Ed Hand (keyboards and percussion.)
WAMFest: What song inspired you to become a songwriter?
CH: Amy Grant’s “Lead Me On.” I was 8 years old and I remember poring over the liner notes to that album and that song.
WAMFest: What else inspires you to write?
CH: Literature, nature, and everyday life.
WAMFest: What typically strikes you first, the music or the lyrics?
CH: If I’m inspired, it’s usually music and lyrics together; just one cool sounding phrase of both. If I have to work through the song, it’s usually lyrics first, coming out of tons of free-writing.
WAMFest: What song can make you cry?
CH: Musical theatre music usually can make me cry. Currently, it’s the Hamilton soundtrack, especially “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?”
WAMFest: What song can change your mood in moments?
CH: “Ooh Child” by the Five Stairsteps or “Sir Duke” by Stevie Wonder make me instantly happy.
WAMFest: Do you have any favorite songs or songwriters?
CH: My favorite song is “America” by Simon and Garfunkel, I think Jackson Browne is probably my favorite songwriter, and I think “Here Comes the Sun” by George Harrison is perfect in its simplicity and power. And I can’t leave out Bob Dylan, of course.
WAMFest: What is the one guilty pleasure song?
CH: “Always be my Baby” by Mariah Carey.
WAMFest: Do you have any other hidden talents?
CH: If I could make a living reading audio books, I would do it in a second! I love reading literature aloud, and I would enjoy dabbling in voice acting.
WAMFest: Best live show you’ve seen.
CH: The Oh Hellos.
WAMFest: If you could play with any artist, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
CH: Robert Plant, because I LOVE his voice and the way he fuses world/folk/blues in such unique ways. Also, we could trade curly hair tips.
WAMFest: How did it feel to hear yourself on the radio for the first time?
CH: It’s only happened once and it was on local college radio. I happened to be out of town, so I couldn’t hear it live. My mom called and let me listen through the phone. It was surreal!
WAMFest: What obstacles do you face on this journey as an artist?
CH: Comparison, jealousy, and self-doubt will trip me up every time. But I’ve learned that I do have a unique perspective to contribute to the world, and that small, faithful actions can add up to strong results.
WAMFest: What is basis of the divine inspiration within your music?
CH: My parents always took me to church. When I was 5 years old, I was learning about the Alamo and I wanted to know if I would see Davey Crockett in heaven, which sparked quite the conversation about whether I could get there too! Thirty years later, I still believe in Jesus and I still remember the Alamo!
Christine Hand will compete in the Al Johnson Performing Songwriter Contest for one of four $500 prizes including the Michael Terry People’s Choice Award on May 19, at 11:30 a.m. on the United HealthCare Singer Songwriter Stage in the Eisemann Center. Christine is also set to give a solo performance on the CityLine Stage at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 19th at the Wildflower! Arts & Music Festival in Richardson. #WAMFest2018